Asher is a successful stockbroker by day, but he is still committed to his band and the smaller gigs they play. Asher’s bandmates know him well at this point and if Asher doesn’t always pay attention to their conversations or show up for drinks, he knows he can still count on them. Asher’s best friend, Leslie, is also his bandmate. Leslie is also best friends with Lucas, although the two men have never met. When the band’s drummer gets sick, Lucas is in town for the summer and easily steps in. Asher doesn’t like change being sprung on him and his not convinced Lucas can pull off being a substitute drummer in just a couple days.
What Asher doesn’t know is that Lucas has a musical gift. He doesn’t want to play professionally, but Lucas can play any song he hears. Asher scares Lucas a bit, as the man’s gruff exterior spikes Lucas’ insecurities, but the chemistry is sparking between the two of them from their first meeting. Lucas does not want to be crushing on Asher and Asher is thrown by how drawn to Lucas he is. But the men both know that Lucas will leave town again at the end of the summer and getting closer will just mean it will that much harder to say goodbye.
Ex-Bandmates is a highly character-driven book that focuses on Asher and Lucas. Asher is successful as a stockbroker and a bit set in his ways. He’s divorced and he still bears a few scars from that experience, but Asher keeps his emotions locked down tight. He knows he’s not the best friend all of the time, but there is also not much he is going to do to change that. He lives his life on his own terms and most of the time doesn’t care to see all that goes on around him.
Lucas is the opposite of Asher in a lot of ways. He’s insecure and has anxiety that stems from his parents trying to push him into a musical career. Lucas is a gifted musician, but he doesn’t want that as a career. However, whenever anybody hears him play, they don’t understand why. Lucas also hasn’t been treated well by past boyfriends and when he meets Asher, he thinks that the man is way out of his league. But Lucas and Asher have a special connection and it’s a natural fit for their relationship to become intimate.
It’s been a while since I have seen two characters that are so in their own heads that they get so much in their own way. The men know that Lucas is leaving at the end of the summer and neither one of them thinks they want a relationship and neither one of them is ready to see what they have together. There is a lot of push and pull with these guys and it takes them a long time to get to the same place emotionally. The men spend time together, then there is a lengthy separation, and then still when they see each other again, the physical aspect takes over before they can talk to each other and these guys weren’t ready to have a conversation for a long time. In some ways, I could see where both men were coming from and, in other ways, there was a lot of drama and a lot of grudge holding.
Some of the writing in the book came across as awkward to me. I would understand passages as a whole, but I found some of the sentences oddly constructed. Also, when the characters were nervous or unsure, they wouldn’t finish sentences and I wasn’t always sure what they were going to say or what emotion they were trying to convey. I also didn’t think that their friend Leslie was acting in their best interests as the book progressed and, at certain points, it felt like she was hindering more than helping.
The book is mostly about the men getting together and I would have liked more time with the men being together. The times they are together offers significant and devastating moments for the men with stripped emotions brought in. Overall, I found the book compelling and I was fully invested in seeing the men work through the many obstacles they kept putting in their way. This book starts a new series and I will come back and check out the next story for Asher’s friend, Eliott.